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The Voice of the SLP Assistant

Keep Calm and Stay Optimistic

Published October 28, 2015 9:05 AM by Rachel Miller

As speech-Language professionals many of us face struggles every day as we meet and work with those new and challenging clients.  Whether it’s finding and practicing new therapy strategies to help our clients reach their target goals or identifying additional needs as they arise.  We all face them and most of us every day. 

What you do does matter and makes a difference in the people’s lives you touch.  From a personal level to a professional level, your attitude makes a world of difference one individual at a time.  Although we face trials from time to time, staying optimistic and being positive are qualities that will shine through in everything you do.  You can never be thanked enough and many of you do not receive the credit that is due to you.  I say this to assure you that even on the hard days you must keep up the good fight, and no matter what obstacles you may encounter as a speech-language professional or as an individual, never stop fighting for yourself and the quality of care that your client deserves.

This past year I found myself in a battle of my own.  In addition to fighting for national recognition of the speech-language-pathology assistant (SLPA), serving my clients and applying to grad schools, I learned at the end of March my life would never be the same.  I experienced a whirlwind of emotions as I learned within the same week that I had been accepted into the Graduate SLP program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as well as being diagnosed with breast cancer. 

No one can ever be prepared for that awful, dreadful “c” word.  As for my future career I was exactly where I wanted to be.  I long for nothing more than to work professionally as a speech-language pathologist.  Helping others is my calling.  In addition to working with my clients as an SLPA, I also wanted to continue to advocate for the SLPA, and was working on submitting to ASHA a ‘call-for-papers’ to present and hopefully gain more support of ASHA in seeing that the SLPA gain the recognition that we deserve.  However, our plans are not always God’s plans and I find peace in knowing that an even bigger “C” is fighting these battles with me. And although grad school must be put on hold for another year, I am grateful for the support I received from my friends, family, professors and colleagues as I started on my own road to recovery to beat this awful disease.  While, in the meantime continuing my advocacy efforts and decreasing my workload. With time passing by I count my blessings every day and have a bigger passion to reach out and help others in any way I can.  During this time I am grateful I am still able to see a few clients, help others who are also fighting this terrible disease, and hopefully make a difference whenever I can.  I am surrounded by prayers, hope and faith as I stay optimistic that the end of this trial is in sight. 

I can’t imagine better way to celebrate this, than having received confirmation that my colleagues and I will be presenting a “Trailblazer Session” on the role of speech-language pathology assistants at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) 2015 Annual Convention, to be held Nov. 12-14 in Denver. “Changing Minds…Changing Lives…Leading the Way”, is the theme ASHA’s convention, and I could not think of a better slogan as we lead the way to changing lives every day.  This is how to find us at the ASHA convention:

Topic Area: Business, Management, Ethical and Professional Issues
Session Number: 1445
Title: The Speech-Language Pathology Assistant (SLPA): Past, Present, & Future
Session Format: Seminar 1-hour
Day: Friday, Nov. 13, 2015
Time: 3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
Author(s): Rachel Miller, (Author who will be presenting at the session), Robert Mayo (Author who will be presenting at the session), Jill McManigal (Author who will be presenting at the session), Denise Tucker (Author who will be presenting at the session) and Celia Hooper. 
http://www.asha.org/events/convention/

There is nothing more satisfying than to be able to make a difference or to help others wherever and whenever the need arises.  As speech-language professionals we live to help others communicate, for what would a life be without the ability to communicate?  Our passion usually spills out to helping others around us, especially as I find myself advocating for SLPAs nationwide.  As an unknown author once wrote, “If nothing ever changed there’d be no butterflies.” 

It is time for a change for the SLPA and I hope to see a large turnout as we meet in Denver.  I look forward to laying to rest the current controversies that surround the use of the SLP Assistant and look towards the future, leaving behind the past.  As the world evolves and changes around us, we must do so as well, not only for what is right but to ensure the best possible care for the clients we serve. Never stop fighting for what you believe in!

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